Welcome to my stop for #WiththeFireonHighBlogTour. You can tell that I am excited 🙂 This is the first time that I have received a physical ARC from an international publisher and I can’t be happier. Thank you so much, Karina (Afire Pages) and HarperCollins International for making this dream true. And more importantly, thank you, Elizabeth Acevedo, for writing this gem.
Publication Date: May 7th 2019
ISBN 13: 9780062662835
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Part of Series: No
Format: Physical ARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads Blurb: With her daughter to care for and her
abuelato help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
When I read The Poet X last year, I instantly fell in love with not only Xiomara but Elizabeth‘s writing and that book instantly became one of my favourites. When I heard about her new book, it was easily one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and I am so lucky to read an ARC of this book. And once again, Elizabeth won my heart with her writing, story and characters. And look at that cover! Isn’t it gorgeous?
Engrossing narrative and wonderful characters
With the Fire on High revolves around Emoni, a single teenage mother, barely 18, who has to care for her daughter while doing the final year of high school. She lives with her grandma who raised her after Emoni’s father left her with his mother after the death of his wife. Emoni has a stranded relationship with her father.
Emoni is passionate about cooking and she has been told that she has magic in her hands. She loves to experiment with her food by adding different spices and giving them a twist. When she learns that her school is organising a culinary arts program with a one week trip to Spain, Emoni couldn’t resist herself from joining. But there are financial challenges that she has to overcome along with the care of her daughter.
Emoni Santiago is such a lovely character. You will definitely fall in love with her. She is sweet but at the same time, she is a bad-ass. Sure she has a daughter to raise when she herself is so young, she has her own dreams, hopes and desires. She has her struggles. She did mistakes but she owns them and doesn’t let anybody make her feel small because of those. She doesn’t act like she is a victim rather she learns from her mistakes. She tries to make herself stronger for her daughter. She juggles between school and her job so that she can support her daughter and ‘Buela.
Sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can’t.
Malachi is such a sweetheart. In the beginning, he shows himself as quite confident about himself but as the story progresses, we get to see how vulnerable he was. I loved how he gave a nick-name to Emoni and always maintained a distance with her. He always supported Emoni. I loved to read how their romance slowly unfolded and glad that it wasn’t rushed. I am glad that the romance in the story was in the right amount and it didn’t take away the light from Emoni’s story. Emoni wasn’t afraid about telling that she needs her own pace and that she also has a voice in her relationship. She wasn’t afraid of asking for time with Malachi and that’s what made them comfortable with each other.
I loved ‘Buela (Gloria) so much and her relationship with Emoni was wonderful. She was an important part of Emoni’s life. She raised her after her father left her with ‘Buela. She is so strong and fierce. She reminded me of my own grandmother and I wish I was living with her. I loved how ‘Buela had her own life apart from Emoni and Emma (Emoni’s daughter). She showed the empowerment we need. Angelica is Emoni’s best friend and is a lesbian. I loved her so much. She is the best friend everyone needs in their life. She is a constant support to Emoni since her childhood. Her and Emoni’s conversations felt almost real as if I was talking to my own friend. I hated Tyrone( Emoni’s ex and her daughter’s father) from the beginning. He was kind of authoritative and controlling and I didn’t like how he treated Emoni for having friends without telling him. But I appreciated that he was sincere for her daughter at least.
The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance.
Chef Ayden was Emoni’s mentor and I loved how he handled Emoni and made her realize her true potential.
All the characters were wonderful and at one point or another, they would definitely remind you of someone in your own life.
Important topics explored
I think most of us will relate to one topic or another discussed in this book. There is so much diversity in this one. Emoni is half Black American half Puerto Rican. Almost all the other characters are also mixed or black. The author has beautifully captured the struggles of being biracial or a person of
The daily struggles of being a teenage mom have been shown beautifully. Though I am not a teenager I can totally relate to Emoni as I myself turned a mom recently. Emoni’s kid is 2 years old while mine is just one month and I am already overwhelmed and tired. It is not easy to raise a kid. I can only imagine the condition of Emoni, going to school while being pregnant and then raising the kid along with her school and job. It is no joke and the author has certainly captured this in a realistic way.
“I’ve always been small: physically petite, which made people think I had a small personality, too. And then, all of a sudden, I was a walking PSA: a bloated teen warning, taking up too much space and calling too much attention.”
I loved how the fears of Emoni were shown. She is a teenager who is not sure what she wants to do after school. She has a lot of things to consider before thinking about her dreams and pursuing them. She wants to achieve everything she has ever dreamed of but she is afraid and not sure about her decisions. And that’s okay. You can’t figure everything in such an early age especially with so many constraints. I loved how the author has perfectly captured the conflicted thoughts of Emoni, be it for romance, pursuing her dreams, forgiving her father or learning from her mistakes.
I already knew that I would love Elizabeth’s writing but she again surprised me. I loved her prose and I loved this one more. The special thing about her writing is that it is so simple and yet connects to your heart so well. Her previous work was poetry, and though this one was not a poetry book, her writing was certainly poetic.
I love short chapters and I can’t lie. Though this book is 400 pages long, it certainly doesn’t feel that long while reading because of short chapters. I kept flying from one chapter to another. The writing style grips you and makes you turn the pages. The narrative is really well-written. The chapters go from one topic to another but it never felt out of the context. I loved how despite covering so many areas, Emoni was the focus throughout. It wasn’t dragging at all and thus keeps you entertained.
‘Buela is Spanish and I like how the author has used Spanish in between to show her thoughts. This definitely gives a personal touch to the story.
All the Food
Well, this is the most important aspect of the book as Emoni wants to be a chef. We have sections in the book starting with a recipe and trust me those are mouth-watering. We get hints of different cuisines throughout the book and those will definitely make you hungry and would want to try them. The book also shows how it is to work in a live kitchen. It shows that a Chef’s duty is not only to prepare food but they also have to learn different skills. This book shows the importance of food. People used to say that Emoni has magic in her hands and her food reminds them of a story from their lives. I loved that description.
I cannot recommend With the Fire on High enough. This book has everything I hoped for- good story, wonderful characters, mouth-watering recipes, diversity and real-life problems. It shows you what it is to achieve your dreams in-spite of difficulties. It shows you how to be passionate about what you want. This book definitely felt fresh to me and I wish I had more.
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** Thank you HarperCollins International for providing me
About the Author
ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the youngest child and only daughter of Dominican immigrants. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over fourteen years of performance poetry experience, Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. She has two collections of poetry, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and winner of the 2016 Berkshire Prize, Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm (Tupelo Press, forthcoming). The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.
April 22 – Afire Pages | Welcome Post & BTS Look on the Cover Design Process
April 23 – Reading Peaches
April 24 – Shut Up, Shealea | Printable wallpapers/ bookmarks
April 25 – A Book Devourer | “The Life of Emoni; A Comparison”
April 26 – Bookish Wanderess
April 27 – Flipping Through the Pages
April 28 – Utopia State of Mind
April 29 – For the Love of Diversity in Books | Aesthetics + Quote Graphics
April 30 – The Royal Polar Bear Reads | Instagram Photos
May 1 – Endless Chapters | Recipe
May 2 – The Ultimate Fangirl
May 3 – The Wolf & Books
May 4 – Book Lover’s Book Reviews
May 5 – Weekend Reader | Cover Inspired Hairstyle
May 6 – The Writer and The Story | Favorite Quotes
May 7 – Themollyweather
May 8 – All Things Gene
May 9 – Darque Dreamer Reads
May 10 – Your Tita Kate
May 11 – Afergtale | “Stories Our Abuelas Wouldn’t Tell Today”
May 12 – F A N N A
Yes, you’ve read it right! This blog tour has giveawayS not just a giveaway. Enter below to enter and win a book or a shirt of With the Fire on High! You can enter not just on either but on BOTH giveaways. The giveaways are open internationally until May 22nd.
#1: ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH
#2: ENTER TO WIN A WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH SHIRT
Shirt design is by Melissa Chan, and you can read more about her designs here. And that’s the shirt you can win:
Have you read Elizabeth’s previous book, The Poet X?
Your favourite diverse book of the year so far?